Ten phrases social media managers hate

by | Sep 17, 2020

You might imagine that the phrases social media managers hate to hear would be “we’re out of coffee”, or “there’s nowhere to charge your phone”.

But there are phrases that strike even more fear into social media managers.
To celebrate National Social Media Managers Day, we’re chuffed to have a guest blog post from an extremely talented freelance social media manager and content creator, Alex Duffy.

Alex Duffy is a Social Media Manager based in Liverpool, England.

You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@alexlduffy) and visit his website (alexlduffy.com).

Over to Alex…

Alex Duffy headshot - 10 phrases social media managers hateWhat’s it like being a social media manager?

Well, it’s a job that allows you to be creative and interact with loads of people using interesting tools such as photos, videos and the occasional meme.

It’s also a job filled with bizarre requests and a lack of understanding from colleagues,who frequently refer to you as “the person that does the Twitter”.

No matter how often we hear them, there’s phrases that make us sigh and roll our eyes.

It’s often a request to do something impossible, or a comment about the work we do.

Grab a seat, read these ten phrases, and use #SocialMediaManagersDay to tell us how many of them you’ve heard.

“Make it go viral”

Picture this: you’re having a lovely day at your desk, sipping the perfect cup of tea. An email drops into your inbox. You open it cautiously. The email reads “Can you make this go viral for us?”

You open the attachment. It’s a Powerpoint presentation about an upcoming HR event on pensions.

You scream and throw your computer across the room. Grabbing your pitchfork and torch, you charge outside. Your uncontrollable rage has consumed you. You shove a small child out of the way.

You kick over a bin.

You glare menacingly at an old lady, who scurries away in fear. This world will feel the pain and suffering it has inflicted on you.

Perhaps that second paragraph was a little dramatic (but only slightly).

Perhaps the phrase “make it go viral” draws from naivete instead of malice. However, it’s a phrase that makes social media managers foam at the mouth.

Making something “go viral” isn’t a case of pushing a button; the majority of viral posts simply happen without a huge amount of foresight, and they’re typically on topics a wide range of people can enjoy.

The majority of us won’t ever create a post that’ll go truly viral, but we’ll promote your product or service in the best way we know how.


“Put it on all social media channels”

Let’s start by discussing the issue with putting something on every social media channel. If you received a 7-minute landscape video and you were told to “put it on all social media channels”, how would you do it?

Twitter and TikTok would clip your video to a shorter length, your engagement on TikTok wouldn’t be as high due to the aspect ratio, and while Facebook may serve it to more people, the chances of people watching until the end are low (unless it’s a really interesting video).
This idea isn’t limited to just videos; graphics may perform differently depending on the social media channel, and the quality of a photo/image may mean it’s better suited to Stories than the main feed.

Even the message itself may only be suited to certain channels due to its intended audience.

Sometimes you can tweak the content or message, but this only adds to your workload and may not be worth the return.

>The people telling you to “put it on all social media channels” likely don’t know how social media works, and don’t understand that not everyone will be interested in their message.

We hate to hear it, but usually explaining this to them helps colleagues understand.

If they ask again, scream and/or pound your head against the keyboard.

“The event’s tomorrow”

“So let me get this straight. This event is vital for the continued success of your team?”

“That’s right”

“How long have you been planning it for?”

“Around eight months”

“How many people are involved?”

“Around 100”

“So why did you only ask me to promote it the day before the event?”

People have a strange misconception about social media. They believe that because messages can be shared instantly (far quicker than other avenues such as print or TV), results will also be immediate. That’s simply not true. Nobody is looking at social media 24/7, and therefore your message will be lost if it’s not regularly communicated with plenty of notice.

If someone have an urgent message, for example a sudden closure, social media is a great way to share that.

If that message involves something that’s been in the works for months, there are very few excuses for not planning promotion earlier.

The more time someone gives their social media manager, the more time we have to develop cool ideas to advertise it and the more time we have to raise public interest.

“We want a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account”

Some people mistakenly believe that good advertising means being physically everywhere. In fact, good advertising is knowing where and how to communicate.

Imagine someone is hosting an event for staff members at your business. They want to target staff who hope to become managers at their specific company.

To do this, they create accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram purely to advertise this event. They also email staff internally, place posters around the building and tell people about it at other events.

When the event arrives, it gets a decent turnout. However, there’s two problems.

First, their social media posts only reached around 10 people, and they have more than that at the event.

Second, because the event has finished, the social media accounts are now pointless.

The event was likely successful because of the internal advertising. They used channels which all potential guests could access, placed visuals in areas staff would most likely see and encouraged others to tell their colleagues.

The social media accounts may have provided a minor impact, but was it as useful as targeted advertising?

Here’s the point I’m trying to make: specialised accounts aren’t always the best way to put your message across.

A lot of the time, it’s better to use the channels you already have.

“Can you put this flyer on Instagram?”


“Can we get [CELEBRITY] to tweet about it?”

This is always a strange request to get because a) it makes the assumption that social media managers have a rolodex of celebrity contact details and b) it also assumes that audiences will only listen to messages if a celebrity speaks about it.

Influencer culture plays a big part in getting people invested in a product or service, but that depends entirely on who’s advertising and what’s being advertised.

Believe it or not, social media managers can’t get Beyoncé to advertise your bin collection service or get Taylor Swift to make an appearance at your networking event. If we could manage that, we’d be partying with celebrities and making guest appearances in DJ Khaled music videos instead of working in social media. That doesn’t mean getting a celebrity involved is a terrible idea; it works particularly well for strong causes such as charitable events.

Sometimes, a message is just a message. It doesn’t need bells and whistles to be communicated.

Sometimes, it just needs a straightforward social media post.

Which takes us to our next point…

“We need a video”

Video is the “big thing” on social media. It’s what platforms such as Facebook and Instagram want you to invest in, and what the likes of TikTok has seen massive success with.

A good video is an “event”, something which keeps your audience engaged and has a significant impact on them.

Does everything need a video though? Does the announcement of a new departmental strategy need a 3-minute video including interviews and cutaway shots? Do photos from a team away day need to be converted into a slideshow?

Long-form video content can be fantastic, but it’s also time-consuming, requires loads of planning and needs technical skill to be done well.

Ask yourself if a video would add anything to your message, or if it could still be easily (and more quickly) communicated through other methods.

Video isn’t bad, but it’s not always a necessity.

“We should be on TikTok”

Let’s get this out of the way first: TikTok is SO enjoyable.

It’s so easy to just sit there for ages scrolling through funny or relatable videos.

Gen Z are doing amazing and creative things with it, and they’re using their voice to support movements such as Black Lives Matter.

However, that doesn’t mean every company needs to be on it. Not all audiences use it enough to justify a presence, not all businesses have the right brand style to succeed on the platform, and not all social media teams have the time to add another channel to their arsenal.

Many of us have that colleague who thinks they’re the messiah when it comes to social media.

They can’t tell Twitter and Facebook apart, yet they’ll tell you on multiple occasions about this “exciting new social media platform” and ask why we’re not on it.

They most likely mean well, but they don’t quite get it. Just because a social media platform exists doesn’t mean we should be on it.

Also, TikTok is more than just “funny dances and filters”, believe it or not!

“We’re not dumbing it down”

If you work in a business which uses a lot of technical language or focuses on knowledge or education, you may relate to this one. Imagine you’ve received a news article written by a member of staff, who wants you to tweet about it.

The article is filled with technical jargon and complicated language, and you want to make it more accessible. You get in touch with the member of staff and ask for more information so you can write your social media posts. They respond with “Why are you dumbing it down? We’re not doing that”

In a way, they’re right; we’re not dumbing it down. What we’re doing is making the post more understandable for a wider audience. As social media managers, our job isn’t to simply copy and paste information.

We need to adapt content so that it suits our target audience. If our followers are primarily caregivers, we would use straightforward and empathetic language. If we’re sent content that’s technical and impersonal, we should adapt that for our audience.

Content with complicated language often only benefits those who wrote it and those in similar careers or circles. When you make your content easier to digest, you invite a new audience to consume it. Information like this should be spread freely, not created solely for the benefit of those who developed it.

“Anyone could do your job”

If none of these phrases have sent your blood boiling, this one might just do it.

In the grand scheme of things, social media is still a relatively new job. It doesn’t have the longevity of print or radio, and for many businesses it’s still an unknown concept.

It’s also seen as “something young people are obsessed with” instead of a legitimate communications function. Social media management is a job that’s simultaneously “something silly that doesn’t mean much” and a platform where, if you don’t post about this single thing, you’re ruining the company.

Social media managers do a lot of work. They create content (often including photos and videos), develop content calendars that could change in a moment, respond to angry people online, deal with crisis comms, support or train other staff members, working at events and more.

They’re often tasked with doing things not within their job description, usually with very little notice. They deal with abuse from people online and a lack of support within their organisation.

It’s a great job, but one which comes with wellbeing risks.

Please don’t say things like “anyone could do your job” and “your job isn’t important”. It’s a vital part of any organisation and needs to be respected.

Thanks so much to Alex for writing this. Funny AND cathartic! Don’t forget to take a look at Alex’s website and hunt him down on social media.

If you liked this post about phrases social media managers hate, you might also like Comms Facepalm Bingo.

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Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds

Author of this post

Hel is social media trainer and boss of Comms Creatives. She has been working in comms since 2005, and has been brushing up her expertise in social media for brands since the good old days of MySpace. She also draws the Comms Cartoons, and is usually attached to a mug of coffee.

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